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UK's Tate buys 8 million of Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds

BritCham / CBBC
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The Tate gallery has bought a work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei made up of 8 million porcelain sunflower seeds — a portion of the 100 million he brought to London in 2010.

Tate said Monday that it had purchased “Sunflower Seeds 2010” — 10 cubic meters (13 cubic yards) of seeds, hand-crafted by Chinese artisans, which can be displayed either as a conical pile or as a square or rectangular bed.
The gallery did not disclose the price. Last year Sotheby's auction house sold a 100-kilogram (220-pound) bag of the seeds for 350,000 pounds (US$550,000).

In 2010, Ai covered the floor of a 1,000-sq-meter (10,000-sq-foot) hall at London's Tate Modern with almost 100 million of the seeds. Visitors were initially invited to walk or lie on them, but after a few days the ceramic dust was judged a health hazard and the exhibit was cordoned off.
It still proved a hugely popular show. The gallery said the seeds, a common Chinese street snack, represented friendship and compassion, raised questions of individualism and evoked the enforced conformity of the Cultural Revolution, when propaganda posters depicted Chairman Mao as the sun and Chinese people as sunflowers turning toward him.

Ai 54, helped design the futuristic Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and last year was named the world’s most powerful artist by Britain’s Art Review.

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